I have learned many things while working with computers, including some life-affecting lessons. One would be that I have a good opportunity to practice patience when this creature of technology is not behaving as it should! Another is that I have a better idea of how our minds work, after using Windows. Have you ever started thinking about something, and that thought led to another, and then another, and eventually you forgot what you were thinking about in the beginning? Or maybe a thought came into your mind that was not right, and you (hopefully) quickly changed your train of thought, and tried to bury the unrighteous intruder.
I like to compare the way that our mind works, to the windows that we use on a computer – especially when we are on the Internet. We open a window (or tab, for some of us XP or Vista users), and then click on a link, and it takes us to another page, and then maybe we find another link on that page, and it takes us to another. Sometimes however, a window pops up that is inappropriate, or maybe we go to a web page where we should not be. We quickly close that out and forget about it.
Thankfully, our Heavenly Father has created our minds so much more wonderfully than man has created technology, but I am grateful for the lessons that I have learned in comparing our minds with a computer. It has been helpful to me concerning the issue that I am preparing to write about.
If everyone reading this article were in an audience, and I asked for everyone who had ever experienced a romantic attraction to someone to raise their hand, I think it would be safe to say that a large number would do so. Is that a crazy question, or what? How many girls are there who have never been attracted to someone? It’s not a sin to be attracted; the problem is in how we handle the attraction.
Proverbs 4:23 says: “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Another version says: “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”
I believe that we often think we know how important it is to guard our hearts, but in reality; we may not know how and may not understand the importance to do so. Even those of us who have been raised with the mindset that dating is practice for divorce, and who understand the danger of experimental relationships; even we may find ourselves struggling to guard our hearts. There may be a young man that we do not know very well, or we hardly ever talk to, and yet we find ourselves being attracted to him in a very powerful way. Help! What is the difference between dating various persons, giving a piece of our heart to each of them and losing it when we break up; or having a secret relationship in our heart, fed and encouraged by secret thoughts about a particular young man? In the latter case, we are still giving a piece of our heart to that young man (even though he may not know it).
I would like to share some practical advice on
what to do in situations like those. Some of it, I have learned by experience; and some has been shared with me by other people.
I believe the first and most important piece of advice is to talk to our parents – especially our father. If you feel uncomfortable initiating a conversation about this topic with your father, just tell him that. Be frank and open – be honest. If it is easier for you to talk about this subject if someone else initiates conversation and asks you questions; then tell your father. Ask him to ask you questions. We wouldn’t dream of starting a relationship or even marrying someone without our father’s permission, guidance, and blessing. Similarly, we should not have a relationship in our heart, without our father’s permission, guidance, and blessing. In learning how to confide in our father, we are also learning how to confide in our future husband.
I am indebted to Genevieve de Deugd for sharing some insights in this area. It was through her that I began to see the importance of opening our hearts to our parents – especially our fathers. I wrote to her with some questions as to why it was so important, and she shared that our parents are our protectors (physically, financially, emotionally, spiritually, etc) until we are married; then it is our husband’s job. If our parents know our hearts, it can enable them to protect us better, and it puts us in a place of covering.
The second piece of advice I have, is to resist all thoughts about that “special person”. This can be near impossible at times, as we may enjoy indulging in those thoughts, but it cannot be allowed. We must control our thoughts –take every thought captive. If you find yourself thinking about a particular young man, turn your thoughts to something else. Sing, pray, talk to someone, do whatever you must, but don’t allow those thoughts to get a foothold. They are an enemy – fight them! If you have feelings and affections for someone already, it’s a little bit more difficult. Pray and ask YHWH to take away those feelings. Sometimes, it may be impossible to “close the window”, as I discussed earlier. If you have been indulging in those thoughts, and they have a foothold, you cannot deny them. In that case, I think it is best to just try and keep the window minimized. When the thoughts come, think about something else. The enemy is going to keep bringing those thoughts to our mind and if we let him win occasionally; he will never give up. Consistency is the key. We have to continually refuse to think about it. He’s going to keep battling until we beat him so hard that he knows it’s a waste to come back.
My mother shared with me that I should think of other young men as someone else’s husband. Another friend said that a young man told her brother something similar. We are only going to marry one man, and all the others that we experience attraction to will, most likely, end up being someone else’s husband. This is similar to coveting someone else’s spouse, even though they are technically not “someone else’s spouse” yet.
When you are struggling with longing, it can sometimes be helpful to expend your energy in doing something physical. Some ideas include:
- Prepare yourself in physical ways by learning the necessary skills for being a wife and mother.
- If you have a hope chest; prepare it. Even if you do not have one, you can still collect things for your future home.
- Write up a list of qualities that you want in a husband. This can be especially handy, because if you find yourself being attracted to someone and he does not have some of the important qualities that you desire (i.e. strong walk with the Father, similar beliefs and worldview, etc.); then you know that he is not an option.
- Make a list of questions that you would want to ask a suitor. Genevieve de Deugd published several Issacharian Daughters newsletters full of “Questions for Suitors”. The lists were contributed by different young ladies, and included hundreds of questions. (You can find back issues on her website www.issacharian.com.) The questions ranged from serious stuff about being born again and doctrinal issues (in some cases, those would be questions that our fathers would address before we were even in a relationship, but some girls are not in the same situation), to questions about favorite foods and the like. Some were those that a father should ask the young man to see if he is even eligible for consideration, and others were not that important – just topics to discuss in getting to know each other better.
Genevieve also shared that girls should not speak to their friends about young men that they are interested in. Not only will those friends know that our heart was not completely saved for your husband, they may become the wife of those young men. How would you feel if you knew that a friend of yours really liked your husband and wanted to marry him? I want my husband to be completely mine, and most of you probably do too. If we want all of our husband’s heart, we must try our best to save all of ours for him.
I believe that we also must be careful about praying for particular young men, even if we do not have a special attraction to them. Prayer can easily cause an emotional attachment, even if we do not mean for it to. I cannot explain and do not exactly understand why, but when we pray for someone, it usually builds a bond (often invisible) between us and the person we are praying for. In the case of a young woman praying for a young man, it is possible to create an emotional bond and attachment. I’m definitely not saying that it is wrong for girls to pray for a young man, but we must show discretion in that area as well, and hopefully have parents to guide us along.
When I shared these thoughts with a friend of mine, she asked what to do when we are struggling with feelings for a certain young man, but he is someone that our family loves or that we fellowship with, and we cannot avoid seeing him. It may not be possible to avoid seeing someone; it may not even be the right thing to do. Even if that person is a good friend of the family, or someone that you fellowship with, you can still avoid thinking about him. My suggestions are:
- When you see him, be polite, but avoid conversation.
- Don’t watch him – don’t try to make eye contact. I think that eye contact is one of the biggest tools of attraction. We must guard our eyes.
- When you are not in the same place with him, don’t try to find out where he is, or what he is doing – don’t look at pictures of him. Try to keep him totally out of your mind, except for when it is impossible (like when you’re in the same place).
- Don’t come into contact with him (visual, physical, or even in your thoughts) on your own initiative. If your family is doing something where you would come in contact with him, then okay – you’re part of the family. But don’t be the instigator.
While I have shared a variety of thoughts and ideas here, I want to emphasize that the most important way that we can safeguard ourselves, is to discuss things with our parents. I understand that there are some young ladies who do not have fathers (or mothers) in their lives, but for right now; I am speaking to those who do. Our key to success is in a strong relationship with our parents, where we are able to confide in them and trust their advice. If you do not have that type of friendship, I would highly encourage you to pursue it.
Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to look your husband in the eye and tell him; “I’ve never wanted to marry anyone besides you. I’ve never given my heart to anyone else.” ???